Mohamed Sail, the man charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Jeremy Cook over a missing cellphone, has been found not guilty in a trial by jury.
The London, Ont., jury reached the verdict after deliberating for only a few hours on Monday.
Jurors had to decide whether it was Sail who shot Cook or Muhab Sultan, the only other suspect and the one who died before he could be brought to trial.
The crux of the case boiled down to which of the two men pulled the trigger, since both were in the car on the morning of June 14, 2015, when Cook was shot to death.
After the verdict was read, the family of Cook was crying but gave no public comment.
Sail walked out of the London courthouse Monday afternoon accompanied by members of his family.
When asked for his response to the verdict, the 26-year-old Sail said: “I would like to thank God.”
The jury heard how Cook, an 18-year-old carpenter’s apprentice from Brampton, Ont., had lost his cellphone in the back seat of a taxi cab while out drinking with friends the night before. When Cook realized he hadn’t left his phone at home, he used an online tracking app to pinpoint its location to a parking lot in northeast London, near Highbury and Cheapside.
Cook’s sister Kayla drove him to the parking lot where the siblings found three men in a Mazda 6. The man in the back seat was just leaving as the siblings arrived and the court had heard he was the one who initially found the phone. He gave it to Sail, who was in the passenger seat of Muhab Sultan’s Mazda 6.
When the siblings asked for the phone, Sail refused to hand it over until Kayla Cook entered the security code in order to prove it was her brother’s. Once she did, Sultan stepped on the gas and peeled out of the parking lot, knocking Kayla over and prompting Jeremy Cook to loop his arms around the car’s centre pillar through its windows and hang on even as the car sped down Highbury and into a parking lot.
The shooting happened in a parking lot near the original confrontation. The Mazda belonging to Sultan was found after it crashed into a fence at a nearby apartment building. The phone was found abandoned nearby and both Sultan and Sail had fled the scene.
Sail would eventually turn himself in to police in July. But Sultan drowned in the Rideau River 10 days after the shooting while trying to evade arrest in Ottawa.